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David O. McKay Diaries – “Youth”

Below you will find diary entries on the topic of “Youth.” You can view other subjects here.

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Thurs., 14 Apr., 1955:

“*At Council Meeting today, President McKay reported the following interesting account of the excellent conduct and activities of a group of our young people:

‘The President mentioned a report that had come to him of the very commendable activity and conduct of an A Capella chorus from the East High School under the direction of Sister Lorraine Bowman, which chorus went to Berkeley to participate in some contest; that there were 40 to 45 young people in the group; and that they traveled in two buses.  One of the buses broke down near Sparks, Nevada.  Sister Bowman was much alarmed about having 20 or 30 young people turned loose in Reno Saturday night and Sunday, but when evening came on these young people gathered in the rear of the bus and suggested that they have prayer before they lay down to go to sleep.  Most of them were members of the Church.

The following day they went to the bishop of one of the Sparks wards, who invited them to the meeting house to practice, which invitation they accepted and remained for Fast Meeting.  One of the young men was called upon to represent the group at the Fast Meeting, and he responded and gave an excellent talk.  Following that meeting they decided to attend the Fast Meeting which followed in the same building, and six members of the party said that they would speak if it were desired, and two others who were standing by said, ‘Make it eight.  We will also speak.’  The bishop turned over the meeting to them and let them do the singing and the speaking.

As they started out they had a testimony meeting among themselves in the bus.  The leader of that particular group is not a member of the Church, but after these young folks had spoken, they asked him if he did not want to say something, and he said that he did.  He said that he had not taken much interest in religion, but after hearing the young folks he did have something to say.

When they got to Berkeley they were assigend to quarters in the homes of non-members.  They stayed there about three days.  They met regularly and had their prayers, and reproted their experiences with the non-members.  President McKay said he did not know when he had heard of anything that pleased him more than the reported conduct of these East High School students; that while we occasionally hear unfavorable reports about some of the young people at that school, we seldom hear the favorable reports of the great majority.  That is why he mentioned it.”

Friday, October 14 to Wednesday, October 19

Report of Trip to Arizona

“We stopped at Nephi to put in gas at 12:50 in the afternoon.  Some High School girls spied me from across the street, and just as I was stepping into the car a whole group of students surrounded me.  I shook hands with them and autographed papers and books.  I suppose one hundred or more students came over from their school which was located just across the street.  Soon others came until I was completely closed in.  By this time the highway patrolman came over and said:  ‘Clear the way, clear the way; you are smothering President McKay!’

Then two or three students spoke up and said:  ‘Won’t you come over and speak to us in a general assembly – please, please!’  I reminded them that their principal may not like them to disrupt their school work, and they said, ‘Oh, we have already asked the principal and he wants you to come too.’  Finally, I think every pupil in the school had come over to the gas station.  They brought me a chair, and I sat down and spent nearly an hour signing autographs for the students.

They were a choice group of boys and girls, and I felt complimented at their eagerness and loyalty.

I finally said goodbye, and expressed regret that time would not permit of my going over to the school to speak in a general assembly.

We then continued on to Salt Lake, arriving there in the late afternoon.

Wed., 25 July, 1956:

“1 p.m.  Just before leaving for lunch greeted and shook hands with Arthur Hughes, 13-year-old boy from Mesquite, Nevada.  My secretary noticed him outside by my car where he had waited for two hours hoping that he might have a chance to shake hands with me.  She brought him in to the office where I shook hands with him.  After a few words of conversation with him, I asked him to take my greetings and best wishes to his friends and associates in his Ward in Mesquite.”

Thurs., 26 July, 1956: 

11:15 a.m. – Mrs. J.A. Bauer of Paul, Idaho called at the office with two of her three adopted children – Ann (age 15) and Mark (about 10).  They live in the Paul Ward, Minidoka Stake.

Ann, her adopted daughter, has just been released from the State Industrial (Reform) School, on parole.  she has been a problem to the whole family and has caused the foster parents much grief.  The mother feels that it might have some influence on the girl if I shake her hand, and give the girl ‘a reason and challenge to be better.’  Sister Bauer said her little boy has always had a desire to shake my hand.

I took Ann’s hand in mine and told her that my sister’s name is Ann; that I had always liked that name.  I detected a strangeness about her manner, and relaized that Sister Bauer really has a problem in directing this beautiful young girl on the right path.  Little Mark, the ten-year-old seems to be a choice spirit.

I congratulated and commended Sister Bauer upon her noble desire to rear her three adopted children to become staunch members of the Church.

Later, I received a letter of appreciation from Sister Buaer in which she says: ‘President McKay:  I cannot tell you ow much my little boy and I appreciated your spending a few minutes with us on Thursday morning.  He has coaxed to shake hands with you for a long time.  I am hoping that your gentleness and nearness to Ann will affect her some way so that she will stop and count her blessings.  I would be most thankful if she would decide to be a good girl, and can assure you that I am doing all I can and have done all I can for her ever since she came here to live.  We all love her and want her to love us and her home.

‘Many people the world over love you.  We are among those, and I know the Lord is with you as you go about doing His work and serving the Saints day by day.

‘I could feel your deep spirituality when you clasped my hand and my soul rejoiced.

‘Thank you again for seeing us in spite of your busy, full schedule.  

‘God bless you!’  Sincerely Zelma Bauer.  (original letter in scrap book – letter volume)  (cm)

I truly appreciated this letter from a true mother!”

Sun., 5 May, 1957:

“In response to several letters and calls Sister McKay and I attended the meeting of the Long Beach 5th Ward Primary Association.  When we arrived at 5 p.m., we found the chapel and recreation hall crowded to capacity.  The Presidency of the Long Beach Stake, the Bishopric of the Ward, and members of the Long Beach Stake High Council were present.

The regular program prepared by the Primary General Board was carried out, and was well rendered by the children.  Following their program, I spoke to the children.  After the meeting, Sister McKay and I took time to greet and shake hands with each one of the children.

Although we were very tired when we arrived home, we were happy we had accepted the invitation to meet with the children and their Primary teachers.  (see following reprot given at Council meeting May 9, 1957)”

Wed., 8 May, 1957:

“This morning we left Cedar City at 5:30 o’clock, and I drove directly to Salt Lake arriving there at 10:15 a.m.

An interesting incident happened when we stopped at Cedar City yesterday afternoon.  Three boys about 10 years of age came running over to the gas station and said, ‘Hello President McKay.’  I greeted them and then asked them how they knew that I was there at the gas station, and they answered:  ‘Oh, the Bishop told us that he saw you, so we came over to say hello to you.’

Nothing pleases me more than to have these children come around–to shake their hands, and to partake of their sincere spirit is always a joy to me.”

Sun., 17 Nov., 1957:

“Several days ago the man at the east door of the Temple grounds asked me if I would shake hands with the Sunday School class of the Murray 2nd Ward.  He said they would call at the office Thursday afternoon.  I said that I believed that I would be present to meet them at that time.

However Thursday afternoon, having in mind the dedication of the new Temple Square Hotel Parking Terrace, I completely forgot to call at the office at 4:30 p.m. – the hour the children called.  They were met and entertained by Bishop John L. Herrick, custodian of the building, and my secretary invited Elder Mark E. Petersen to come down and greet the children.  Brother Petersen was very cordial with them, shaking each child’s hand.

Nevertheless, this morning, feeling that I had not kept my promise, I drove down to the Murray 2nd Ward, and visited the Sunday School Class and shook hands with the children.  I also visited two othere classes, and then went into the Parents’ Class and shook hands with each of the members of that class.

Following my visit to this Ward, I went to the office and spent a few hours at the office.”

Thurs., 17 May 1962:

At 7:50 a.m., according to previous arrangements, I met in my private office the following persons: 1) Mrs. Alice Buehner and her seven-year-old son, Dale Buehner, who had repeatedly asked his mother to take him to see me, finally saying: ‘I know you will wait until the Prophet dies and I shall die, then it will be too late.’  2) Brother Robert Williams, son of Helen Spencer Williams, and his adopted ten-year-old daughter who, although her adopted parents are inactive in the Church, is very active herself.  She went alone to the Annual Conference in the Salt Lake Tabernacle at 5 a.m., waited alone for hours, and then could not get a seat in the Tabernacle.  She came home disappointed, but said to her parents, ‘It is all right; I shall get in next time, but if I could only shake hands with the Prophet!’

Note by c.m.

President McKay’s meeting with the children this morning

The meeting this morning with the two children who had so earnestly sought an audience with President McKay was heart-warming and touching.  When little Dale Buehner was introduced to President McKay, he said, clutching the President’s hand, ‘Hi, President McKay.’  President McKay bent down and said, ‘This is a pleasure and an honor to meet you, Dale.’  Dale answered, ‘It is a pleasure for me.’  ‘How old are you?’ asked the President, and little Dale spoke up, ‘Seven years old!’  ‘And what is going to happen when you become eight years old?’  ‘I am going to be baptized,’ Dale said without hesitation.  He would not let go of President McKay’s hand during the entire time, even when the President was shaking hands with the others.

Later, Dale’s mother reported that when they were driving home, little Dale was very quiet and she said to him, ‘What are you thinking about?’  Dale said very earnestly, ‘I was just thinking how kind President McKay is inside.’

The meeting with Robbin Williams was also touching.  The tears just streamed down her cheeks, and her father, Robert Williams, was equally moved as tears shone in his eyes during the meeting.  Robbin told her father as he was taking her to school, ‘I just hope, Father, that I can keep from crying during the day in school — this has been wonderful!  I shall never forget my meeting with President McKay.’

Later, the following letters were received from Dale, his mother, and Mrs. Helen Williams:

‘Dear President McKay,

I hope your wife will get better soon.

Thank you for letting me come to see you.

I want to be like you.


Dale Buehner’

‘Dear Sister Middlemiss,

What a thrill it was for Dale, and indeed, his mother, to meet the Prophet!

It was an answer to my prayers, for Dale has longed to meet President McKay ever since he could utter words.

After our meeting, Dale was silent for a time, and then said, ‘I was just thinking how kind President McKay is inside.’

We will always be grateful to you!


Alice Buehner’

‘My dear Clare,

It seems that my gratitude to you for so many, many things is difficult to express.

This last kindness which made possible the visit with President McKay tops them all.

Thank you for your friendship, and the wonderful opportunities you and only you 

could have made possible for my loved ones.

Perhaps the visit of our son, Bob, to the Prophet may inspire him to change his

way of life and turn to things that will mean happiness and peace of mind.

I love you because you are you, and because of your generosity to me always.


Helen (Williams)’ 

Wed., 13 June 1962:

“10:45 a.m.

Returned to my private office where I met fifteen young members of the Mutual Improvement Association from widely scattered points in the United States and Canada.  These teenagers, selected from stakes throughout the Church for their outstanding achievements in Church, Civic, and School activities, will be honored on the ‘Focus on Youth’ Session of the M.I. A. Conference on Friday.

These young people were accompanied by Elaine Cannon and Dr. Richard Tanner of the M.I.A. General Boards.

I greeted each one personally, shook their hands, and congratulated them on their sincerity and achievements.  I took them into the Office of the First Presidency to show them the beauties of that room, and there spoke to them briefly.

We hear of the recreants in the Church, but they are a very small percentage compared with the vast majority of young men and young women who are making their mark in the world, and who are outstanding young people.  I think we need to emphasize the good things, and let the world know about our young people — that a great majority of them are mighty wonderful.”

Sun., 16 June 1963:

“Following the meeting, after expressing again to Mr. Augustus and Mr. Brunton my appreciation for their presence and participation in the meeting, Sister McKay and I wended our way out of the Tabernacle, greeting and shaking hands with many of the brethren and sisters as we left.

At the rear door, we shook hands with a young man by the name of Robert Mitchell, a polio victim of eight years.  He had been brought in a wheel chair by truck from Buena Park, California.  He is totally helpless.  His parents, Brother and Sister William Mitchell, and a brother, accompanied him.  We also shook hands with a Sister Jack C. McCallister from Oklahoma, who was also in a wheel chair.

Hundreds of little children and young folks were gathered at the back door, and Sister McKay and I responded by waving and shaking hands with as many as we could.  My heart went out to them as tears welled up in their eyes.”

Mon., 6 Apr. 1964:

Though it was cloudy and a slight drizzle of rain was falling, we again greeted hundreds of people who were gathered at the rear of the Tabernacle.  My secretary, Clare, called my attention to a little boy who held in his hand a bouquet of pink carnations.  His little sister was standing by him clutching in her hand a sprig of fern.  They had been held back by the ushers, but when I saw them I motioned for them to come near me.  I tearfully thanked them as I accepted their flowers.  I was truly thankful that Clare had called my attention to them!”

Mon., 15 June 1964:

“Note by CM

President McKay learned of the serious illness of little Shana Campbell, who was in the Primary Children’s Hospital, so with his usual concern and sympathy, he sent a letter of encouragement to her.  The mother, Mrs. Bonnie Campbell shed tears of gratitude and joy when she was handed the letter to take to her little daughter.  (See copy of letter following.)

Monday, June 15, 1964

June 15, 1964

Dear Shana:

Word has come to me that you have been ill, and that you are now in the Primary Children’s Hospital where you and many other children are being treated by the wonderful doctors and nurses who are watching over you and them.

I want you to know, Shana, that I shall pray for you that our Heavenly Father will bless you with a complete restoration to health and strength.  I have been informed that the Elders have administered to you, and now with their faith and administration, added to your own faith and that of your Loved Ones, we shall leave to the Lord whatever He feels is for your best good.

With my very best greetings to you, and to your mother and father, I remain

Sincerely yours,

David O. McKay


Miss Shana Campbell

c/o The Primary Children’s Hospital

Salt Lake City, Utah

cc:  President N. Eldon Tanner”

Tues., 14 Mar.1967:

“8:30 a.m.

Held a meeting with the First Presidency in my office in the apartment at the Hotel Utah.  Among matters discussed were the following:

Youth Guidance Committee – Thomas Monson to be Appointed to

Reference was made to recent action of the First President approving LeGrand Richards to succeed Spencer W. Kimball as a member of the Youth Guidance Committee, it being the feeling at the time that Elder Kimball should be relieved of some of his responsibilities.  President Tanner said that in thinking about this, both President Brown and he had agreed that Thomas S. Monson would be a better man for this position inasmuch as he is closer to the young people and would probably understand their problems better. I agreed that it would be preferable to call Brother Monson to this service.  A letter of release will be sent to Elder Kimball and a letter of appointment to Brother Monson.

“April 28, 1969

Miss Clare Middlemiss


Dear Sister Middlemiss:

On Thursday, April 24th I had a very pleasant visit with President David O. McKay which you may wish to make note of.

I went to President McKay’s apartment in the Hotel Utah at about 11:45 and had a delightful opportunity to visit with him for some time.

I reported to President McKay (1) my visit to LDS students representing about 175 campuses, in the last five or six months. These students are, generally speaking, excellent young Latter-day Saints who look to the Brethren for direction and who will take counsel when they receive it. They are anxious to be close to the leaders of the Church and to get a chance to communicate with them. I have found not one single instance of real dissidence among them but rather have been grateful to feel their sweet spirit and the strong appreciation they feel to have the Brethren interested in them through the LDS Student Association.

(2) I discussed with President McKay my visit to the LDS student conference in Sunderland, England, just before April General Conference. 55 choice university and college students who are members of the Church congregated from all areas of Britain, with representatives from France and Holland, and had a four-day convention that was outstanding in its organization, preparation, and performance. Again, the attitude and atmosphere were wholesome and warm and entirely constructive. Outstanding testimony meetings were held, service opportunities, group discussions, recreation, and worship services all made part of a very encouraging and successful program.

(3) I reported to President McKay my attendance at the Association of Governing Boards of American Colleges and Universities held at the University of Missouri at Columbia, Missouri. I went as a representative of the Brigham Young University Board of Trustees and had a very profitable experience. Some of the proceedings of the meetings of this conference, however, caused real concern. The foment across the campuses, the racial problems involved, and the general feeling of apprehension and fear on the part of the governing boards and administrations of colleges and universities across America were very evident. Some of this creeps into our own circles and we need to be aware of it. I discussed with President McKay very briefly the Brigham Young University and our opportunity to be close to our students in advance of any feeling of protest or problem. We have these feelings now and it is my judgment that it would be very well for us to be conscious of them and to work with them in advance rather than after some unfortunate incident.

President McKay was interested in some of the recent events involving charges of racism against BYU and the Church. This was mentioned briefly.

I had previously been authorized by President McKay to accept any invitation involving youth leadership in the current national administration. Several such opportunities have been mentioned which would require more time and availability than I now have, considering Church and non-Church commitments to Boy Scouting and so forth. I have however agreed to serve as a member of the committee for the White House Conference on Children and Youth in 1970, of which I informed President McKay.

The last item discussed in this visit with President McKay was the appropriateness of my making some business affiliations, in my present status as an Assistant to the Twelve. President McKay said that this would be perfectly appropriate and told me to go ahead and do so.

In our last meeting President McKay had authorized this latter move but I felt it had not been fully enough discussed.

There was also brief mention of previous direction from President McKay to keep Sister Hanks close and to have her accompany me on youth related assignments, and brief mention was made of some approaches which have been made to me considering presidencies of universities.

President McKay was warm and gracious and seemed anxious to learn of some of the activities and current conditions in the Church and across the country as we have observed them.

This is a rather full report, Clare, but perhaps it would be well to at least have it in your hands for such mention as needs to be made in President McKay’s record.

Very sincerely,

Marion D. Hanks”

Thur., 12 Jun, 1969:

“9:30 a. m. Meeting of the First Presidency in the President’s Hotel Apartment. Present were Presidents Hugh B. B rown and Alvin R. Dyer.

Among the matters discussed were the following:

Children Not to Bear Testimony at Sacrament Meeting

Attention was called to a letter from Robert Mousey of Spokane, Washington, addressed to me referring to the practice in some wards whereby little children bear their testimonies in testimony meeting. Brother Mousey feels that these little ones should bear their testimony in Sunday School classes, Primary and MIA rather than in the regular sacrament meeting. In discussing the matter the brethren were agreed that the bishops should be cautioned to have children under the age of l2 bear their testimonies in Sunday School, Primary or Home Evenings rather than in the ward sacrament meeting. It was thought that something should be published in the Priesthood Bulletin to this effect. The matter will be taken to the Council of the Twelve for their consideration.